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West Ham United have received the backing of Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez after their meeting at the weekend.

With the praise of Neil Warnock ringing in their ears West Ham have now been written off by Benitez… as relegation candidates.

The Hammers cruised to a superb 3-0 win over the Magpies at St James’ Park.

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Sobering defeat for Benitez

It was a sobering defeat for Benitez after his side’s recent revival.

And it proved the perfect shot in the arm for West Ham ahead of what looks a kinder run of fixtures – on paper at least.

West Ham sit 13th but are now in striking distance of the top half.

According to Benitez that is where Manuel Pellegrini’s side should be aiming after witnessing their talents up close.

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‘You can see they have brought quality’

“You see the players that made the difference, they are top-class players,” Benitez told Sky Sports.

“(Marko) Arnautovic, Felipe Anderson, (Robert) Snodgrass and Hernandez, four players – all of them have quality, all of them have pace, they have ability, that’s the point.

“It wasn’t just one player today. The four offensive players and the players in the middle that they had, they are quite good and will create problems against anyone.

“I’m not here to talk about them, they have spent a lot of money and you can see they have brought some quality in,” Benitez said of West Ham (Chronicle Live).

“For sure, they will not be in a relegation battle.

“The difference between teams is not too much, but in general, the league is tough.”

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It could have been you…

Of course Benitez could have been in Pellegrini’s seat at the London Stadium.

West Ham owners David Sullivan and David Gold have long admired the Spaniard.

And Benitez admitted he came close to becoming West Ham boss before Slaven Bilic was appointed.

Cardiff boss Warnock also waxed lyrical about the Hammers ahead of Tuesday night’s clash between the sides at the London Stadium.

The veteran manager made a bold claim that West Ham’s attack is one of the best in the top flight on Sky Sports.

Praise is great.

But West Ham must ensure complacency does not creep in after one good performance.